(not so) Top Secret

My husband and I had a pretty important milestone lately.  We celebrated twenty years of marriage.

In today’s throw-away society, that’s a pretty big deal.  I’m reasonably sure the divorce rate is now well over 50%. (I could research that, but this isn’t one of those serious, research-y blogs.)

Anyway, as an act of benevolence, and in light of the upcoming nuptials of some beloved family members, I have decided to share with you the secret of my marital success.

You read that right.  I am about to share with you, my faithful readers, top-secret, highly confidential information that may change the way we look at marriage, and, in fact, all of our relationships.

Come close now.  A little closer.  Lean in here.

Here is the secret–the secretest of secrets–

There is no secret.

I know, you’re thinking, “Wait–what?”

I’ll say it again: the secret is, there is no secret.

Part of our culture’s collective problem is that we think there is some magical answer to all of our problems.  There has to be some secret to how two people can stay married for twenty years, right? Some formula that makes it easy and does all the work for us. Do this, get that result.  A plus B equals C.

Oh, if only life were that simple.

My husband and I have stayed married for twenty years because we made the choice to stay married for twenty years.  If you think there haven’t been times during these two decades when each of us hasn’t thought about running for the hills, then you’re deluded.  Everyone has those feelings.  Human beings are volatile creatures.  We get angry.  We harbor resentment, and say things without thinking.  We hurt each other again and again.  Truthfully, no one has the power to hurt us more than the people we love.

It would be so simple for people to give up, to say to Hell with it and walk out the door.  Tons of people do.  Matt and I have not.  We have chosen forgiveness, and patience, and compassion.  We talk to God about our problems instead of the neighbors. We talk to each other when we have an argument instead of posting it on Facebook. In short, we make our marriage a priority.

To me, that isn’t a secret. We should treat all of our relationships, and the people in them, with respect.  We should give our best to the people who mean the most to us.  After all, that’s what we expect from them, isn’t it?

It’s so easy to think someone else will be better, someone else will do better, when in reality we are the ones who need to do better. We need to try harder.

That isn’t a secret, my friends.  That is a fact.



The Husband’s Rebuttal (by proxy)

Well, my husband dislikes typing very much, so I am forced to type for him a rebuttal to my previous post about what the bride’s wedding vows should really be.  Apparently, my better half feels as though he should defend himself and his gender against some of the implications of my vows, and he even offers a few of his own.

This is his view of the matter:

  • I vow to forever take the blame for “tracking mud” in the house, even if it is six in the morning and the only things I’ve had on my feet are my house shoes.
  • I am afraid of the hamper, because God forbid I put an article in there that doesn’t belong, like a towel with two water molecules on it.
  • I vow to be very quiet when you are sick, because you are, frankly, the meanest sick person I have ever seen. Ever.
  • I vow to try to walk a fine line between helping you too much and not enough, because you don’t like lazy people, but you don’t want anybody to do anything for you, either.
  • I vow to never dare complain about being sick for longer than twenty-four hours, because that’s about how long your sympathy lasts before you run out of patience.
  • I will never, ever, ever be clean enough for you.  No one is clean enough for you.  Look at this way–you are a woman, and when your house is neat and tidy, people say, oh, look how clean your house is! I am a guy–if I keep a clean and tidy house, people say, oh, he’s gay.
  • I vow to watch a scary movie with you, even though I know you will be up all night, and you’ll make me get up with you if you have to pee.
  • On a related note, I vow to go with you to the bathroom when we go camping, because I know you are afraid of the dark.
  • I vow to at least keep my hunting stuff out of the house–I do it for you, baby.
  • I vow to try my best to avoid all possible contact with you before 9:00am or three cups of coffee, whichever comes first.
  • I vow not to touch you when you are having a hot flash.
  • I vow to lay patiently beside you while you toss and turn, and toss, and turn, and toss, and turn, and toss…….
  • I vow to not be annoyed with you when you wake up pissed at me for something I did to you–in a dream you had.
  • I vow to watch an untold number of paranormal shows about aliens, ghosts, and Bigfoot, even though I think every bit of that is bullshit. (Although I draw the line at Ghost Adventures.)

So you see, there is a lot more to the wedding vows than just that “richer and poorer” bit.   There’s a lot of give and take when you are in any kind of relationship, although personally I think the women do a tad more giving.  Matt agrees–giving guys crap, giving guys a hard time, giving guys chores to do…….

And hopefully giving them enough love to last a lifetime.




The Fine Print

I’m not an overly romantic person.  For some reason that I can no longer comprehend, I had a formal wedding.  In retrospect, I’d like to have the money I sunk into the wedding, and we could have just went to the courthouse.  The end result would have been the same.

But, alas, we did the formal church-wedding thing, and we stood in front of God and a few dozen witnesses and said the wedding vows–you know, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, etc., etc.  Upon reflection, though, I think there should be some more (realistic) vows added.  I guess they wouldn’t sound so great in the actual church service, but maybe they could be added to the bottom of the marriage license or something.  Here’s what I’ve come up with for the bride:

  • I vow to pick up your clothes until the end of time, because, for whatever reason, you simply cannot make the trek from the bedroom to the hamper, and, if by some miracle you do make it to the hamper with the clothing, you then lay them on the closed lid, because lifting the lid is just too damn hard.
  • I vow to recognize that you are always sicker than me, even if I am, in fact, laying in bed incapable of even moving my eyeballs because it hurts, and fluids and semi-solids are escaping from every orifice in my body, and my fever has burned an actual hole in my pillow.  I also recognize that you can be perfectly healthy until I mistakenly mention that I have, say, a headache, and then you will immediately be struck with a sympathy headache.
  • I further vow that when you are genuinely sick, you cannot do anything, even if you just have the sniffles.  I should leave you alone to lay in misery (with the TV of course) and hope not to die. I, on the other hand, sick or well, will still plod on with my daily chores, and I vow not to choke you when I, sick and shaking, stagger through the room, and you ask, “What’s for dinner?”
  • I vow to accept the fact that no matter what I suggest, you will have to alter the plan in some way, no matter the circumstances. 
  • I vow that no fact I state will ever be accepted as truth until both you and your male offspring thoroughly research the topic, discuss all possible options, and ask everyone else on the planet for alternatives. 
  • I vow to carefully REfold the clothing in your drawers each time you open them and examine each article as though you are searching for DNA evidence, instead of what you are actually doing, which is getting the same articles of clothing that have been in the drawers for the last ten years.
  • I vow to find storage for the 78695746487 hats that you bring home on a regular basis, even though you don’t wear hats! This also applies to boots.
  • I vow to never question the fact that you are in constant need of hunting supplies, such as arrows, broadheads, silencers, scopes, calls, blinds, stands, and, I swear I am not making this up, bottles of a substance made to simulate female deer pee.  I will accept this need, even though we now have enough of these items to open our own sporting goods store.
  • Furthermore, I will accept the fact that any money spent on any of these items is perfectly acceptable, while money spent on something I might be interested in is money wasted.
  • I vow to never ask you do anything, because that is nagging, and I wouldn’t want to do that.
  • I vow to allow you whatever amount of time it takes you to do something I finally break down and ask you to do, even if that means it takes you upwards of three weeks. 
  • I vow to keep a schedule of all appointments and meetings, and then tell you the times of these appointments and meetings without getting annoyed, even though you ask me these times at least three times every single day.
  • I vow to offer you extravagant praise for any task that you perform, even if it is something like, say, carrying a dish to the kitchen counter and leaving it.  I will also thank you repeatedly for “watching” the kids, as though they were children from my first marriage and not, in fact, your children.
  • Lastly, I solemnly vow that you are a better driver, smarter, and much more tired than I could ever dream of being.

I figure I’d better quit for now before I really offend someone.

Don’t worry, in a day or two I’m going to give the husband a chance for rebuttal.  I can’t wait to hear what he has to say!






The White Horse Poops, Too

     There seems to be an awful lot of pressure on people nowadays to find the “perfect” relationship. I always get a kick out of those Match.com and Eharmony commercials. Don’t get me wrong–I’m sure some people find wonderful companions that way. My issue is that people spend an awful lot of energy looking for that “perfect” person.

     There are reams of books and articles about how to make a relationship work, how to find that special someone, how to put the spark back in your marriage, you name it. What I think everyone needs is a reality check. Listen up, teenage girls! That gorgeous, wonderful, super-hot guy that you’re screaming and crying for? He throws his clothes on the floor and pees on the toilet seat just like all the rest of them.

     I think that’s the problem (not peeing on the toilet seat, although that’s certainly a problem)–we don’t have any perspective. We think that our relationship should be perfect, but here’s the crux–no relationship is perfect, ever. We keep expecting perfection, and we keep getting let down.  Even the relationship between a mother and her child–the most natural, instinctive relationship there is–is often rife with stress and aggravation. So how can anyone expect a relationship with their partner to ever be anything other than challenging? A relationship is work, folks. Hard work. Something else–that person you think you’re attracted to that seems so much better than the person you’re with? They have a whole laundry list of their own little quirks, too.

     I’m not so old that I don’t remember what that first stage of infatuation was like. It’s always like that, for everyone, and it always fades into reality. The knight on the white horse from the fairy tale may come riding up to sweep you off your feet, but when you get home with him, you’ve got to fix his dinner and he’s got to go clean out the white horse’s stall in the barn.  Maybe that’s why the fairy tale always ended with “They lived happily ever after.” I guess “Cinderella changed into her work clothes and started a load of laundry while the Prince cleaned out the barn”  just doesn’t have the same ring.

     Instead of trying to make our partners perfect (they won’t ever be, by the way) maybe we should focus our energy on lowering our expectations. No, sorry, just kidding. Maybe we should focus our energy on making our relationships better. It’s mostly the little stuff I think, like NOT throwing our clothes on the floor or peeing on the toilet seat (I’m just generalizing, I’m not implying anyone actually does this!)  So give up on perfection (unless you’re me, of course) and go start that laundry. I’ll be in the barn.

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